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Presented below is the second day of the Loma Prieta “Earthquake Collage” written by Robert Sward, a poet and novelist, from his work with students and faculty and staff at Cabrillo College. (Move on to Day 3, or back to the first day.)

Wednesday, October 18, Day 2

“No sound is dissonant which tells of life.”– Coleridge

Garbage men arrive at 6 AM. Comforting: clashing, cursing, and banging of metal.

10 AM

We drive to Safeway, but the power’s out and the store–its doors opening, closing to admit one or two people at a time–is dark. Hundreds of people lined up waiting to enter…

Safeway’s concern:

a) How to protect itself against shoplifters;

b) How to ring up purchases without cash registers.

Wait in line at Ace Hardware for batteries… reading newspaper and sharing “Where were you?” stories.

“I opened the car door and jumped and started rolling down the hill with geraniums and wild flowers flying through the air,” a friend wept. “‘O God,’ I said, ‘I don’t want to be killed by flowers.’ And I saw him running towards me, Max, who eats the cat’s food, Max, the black and tan nipper at peoples’ heels, his raw, flea-bitten rump slightly out to one side. He jumped into my arms. ‘My sweet, noble, dancing prince,’ I crooned and began to cry, believing that’s how J. would find us, alone in the woods, Max in my arms.”

Hour later, store is out of batteries. G.’s friend, M., agrees to buy us canned food, coffee and cheese, which we’ll pick up later.

Check house for damage, clean up. POWER COMES BACK ON.

5.2 aftershock. A flow, or “outbreak,” some people call them, of aftershocks. “Well, better an aftershock than the thing all over again,” says my son. The quake and aftershocks give birth to “disaster-bred opportunities…” they set off an “avalanche of sales,” says the newspaper.

***

“According to Dave Steeves, chief county building inspector, Santa Cruz County floats on an island surrounded by seven major faults and is the most dangerous quake zone in the U.S.”

–News Item

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s top medical-disaster coordinator went on vacation, with his supervisor’s permission, the day after the earthquake struck California, FEMA officials acknowledged…”

“The departure of Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Brown before the extent of the casualties was known raises fresh questions about the agency’s management…”

–News Item

***

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